This Hawke’s Bay family shares a vision: to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live and the planet itself
Holistic grazing is the heartbeat of Mangarara. Grass is kept longer, with a longer rest period before the animals return to the paddock. Cattle trample the long grass, which has a higher carbon content. It soaks up the dung and urine so it doesn’t contaminate waterways and instead becomes compost, enriching the soil and insect life. Longer grass ( like a solar panel) with longer roots ( like a battery bank).
The farm is not organic but strives to be without chemicals and to balance nature and agriculture.
Animal health is imperative. “We treat our animals like our children with the best life and best food. If animal remedies for stock health are required we use them.” The farm is protected by two QEII covenants. Some 105,000 trees have been planted in the past eight years.
22 cows for milking, 76 calves for rearing, 60 berkshire pigs, 150 chickens, 900 breeding ewes, 1000 lambs (to supply the Family Farm Meat Box), 150 dairy heifers, 50 beef cattle, 150 raising and finishing contract wagyu steers and 70 wagyu cows.
Growing abundance of tui, korimako, pipiwharauroa, kereru, frogs, spider webs, insects and bees. mangarara.co. nz IT IS A PHONE CALL Greg Hart won’t forget. December 2007 and the Mangarara Station farmer cold-called Air New Zealand to talk trees, planes, fuel, carbon credits and environmental welfare.
It was audacious rhetoric. Could there be potential for New Zealand’s national airline to offset its environmental impact by partnering with a 600-hectare holistically hued farm in Central Hawke’s Bay – a world away from Air New Zealand’s glass-fronted offices in Auckland?
Forty days later Greg and Rachel were in the city mixing it up with the big guns – the prime minister, Air New Zealand’s CEO and the airline’s management team. The unbelievable happened; Mangarara Station was announced as the first recipient of the Air New Zealand Environmental Trust, garnering a grant of $450,000 over three years to plant 85,000 native trees on the farm and cementing an astonishing bond between bigscale corporate player and small-scale man of the land.
For the past eight years the convergence has brought regular visits to Mangarara Station from Air New Zealand’s Greenteam – staff from all corners and careers including flight attendants, air traffic controllers, engineers, cargo handlers and corporate managers.
They pitch in, tend the trees and enhance the landscape planted on the farm as part of the airline’s conservation estate. Relationships as well as trees have burgeoned. “The Greenteam has become part of the Mangarara Station family. Many of the staff have revisited the farm with their own families,” says Air New Zealand’s head of sustainability Lisa Daniell. One engineer has stayed five times.
Greg and Rachel Hart are humbled. “The relationship has been transformative. It has showed us that anything is possible and it’s opened the gates,” says Greg.
Rachel and Greg with their children George ( left), Emma and Bill and Pipi the dog. “We really believe in finding what sparks you up and following your passion to use in service to the world.”
THIS PAGE: Last winter 5000 natives were planted with woollen weed matting and biodegradable pins around the lake’s edge. Protected by a QEII covenant since 2006, the 35- hectare lake is a prime habitat for water birds. OPPOSITE: A 10- minute ride over the farm on a quad bike utility reveals an enchanted world. Set in 10 hectares of protected podocarp forest and wetland is an old hut that Greg and Rachel have repurposed as a magical setting for family picnics and summer sleepovers.